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Australia Embarks On A Mammoth Renewable Energy Exporting Project

As well as being a world-class LNG exporter, Australia may soon become a major exporter of renewable energy.

Engineers are now looking to connect Singapore with Darwin, using a 3,800-kilometer undersea cable, effectively connecting the South-East Asian country to the Australian grid.

Perth-based company Guardian Geomatics has been awarded the contract to conduct a route survey for the Sun Cable project which is backed by Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and Fortescue Metals founder Andrew Forrest.

The two billionaire backers led a capital raising round for the project last November. And while the total amount of money raised remains undisclosed, the two funds Grok Ventures and Squadron Energy raised tens of millions of dollars during this first capital raise. The total cost of the project is expected to be around $13 billion.

Guardian Geomatics will commence preparations this month, with initial plans to utilize sister company Guardian Offshore’s vessel “Offshore Solution” to deliver the work, starting later in 2020.

The 15,000 hectare, 10GW solar farm near Tennant Creek in Australia’s Northern Territory is the largest solar farm in the world currently under development. The project also includes plans for a massive 50-megawatt battery storage facility which ensures a steady around the clock energy supply.

Most of the energy from the project will be exported through the undersea cable to Singapore, but a small part will be delivered to consumers in and around Darwin.

Related: Driving Season Won’t Save Gas Demand

Sun Cable expects to reach financial close for the megaproject somewhere in 2023, with full commercial operations starting in 2027.  

As an island nation with limited space for power generation, Singapore has relied on LNG imports for about 95 percent of its electricity needs and despite the growth in solar PV and other renewables, Singapore will continue to rely on natural gas for the next 50 years or so.

Solar PVs contributed 174.3 MW in 2019, or just a meager 1.3 percent of total electricity capacity. Sun Cable says the project can supply a fifth of Singapore’s power.

By Tom Kool of Oilprice.com

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